ETL Part 3: You, Your Company, and Document Processing Efficiency

We are putting you in the spotlight of this week’s blog post. The idea is to give you a different perspective of document processing efficiency. You can read several excellent articles in the Rossum Blog for all the math and stats that prove the same point: AI-powered data capture can dramatically improve business performance. You can also check out stories based on first-hand experiences of data entry clerks. As subjective as they may be, they reinforce the objective evidence that manual data extraction is an inefficient waste of time, money, and talent. This week, we are going to look at improving document processing efficiency through your eyes.

If this were an audio or video recording, this is the part where we would tell you to close your eyes and imagine you are working for a company called Manual Corp. You are in an upper-management role, with a small team of managers and specialists reporting to you. Let’s say you are part of the Finance and Accounting (FA) function. 

In addition to your regular responsibilities, you and your FA team manage a variety of document assets, such as invoices, order confirmations, and tax documentation. So you need to extract document data to load into Manual Corp.’s extensive network of business systems, which includes 

  • Accounting software
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools

Your Company’s Got Efficiency Issues

While Manual Corp. has its forward-thinking moments, your FA team is still stuck manually entering data into systems. You have a vanilla RPA tool that cuts down on some of the labor, but it is only good for invoices. Whenever you get an invoice with a new layout, you need to task someone on your team to create new rules for your RPA bots to follow. You hate assigning this to anyone because even the most eager-to-please interns sulk about it. 

All the manual work is dragging down your team’s morale and performance. To make things worse, they often feel like they are to blame for Manual Corp.’s stagnant position in the market – a position caused by operational inefficiencies that, according to other teams, start in FA. 

Grief and CYA

The time spent on manual data entry and writing RPA rules every other day has been causing delays functions across the organization. You are more than aware of this – in your three years with Manual Corp., you have received more than your fair share of emails and direct messages. Sometimes you feel bombarded with other peoples’ emotions, and your inbox and messaging windows are a heavy mix of four of the Five Stages of Grief:

  • Denial: “You can’t be serious. It doesn’t take that long to enter a few numbers into a spreadsheet.”
  • Anger: “I need those figures yesterday! Get your house in order!”
  • Bargaining: “Please, you need to understand, I really really REALLY need that data . Please, this is urgent – without the data, my project will fail.”
  • Depression: “Well, I guess there’s no point in moving forward without the numbers we need from your team. It’s such a pity, but I guess there’s nothing we can do about it.”

There are some exceptions who eventually reach the Acceptance stage, and prepare a Plan B for the next time your team is late delivering data. In some extremely rare instances, you might actually get a bit of sympathy or (gasp!) empathy. But most of the time, all you are getting is a barrage of everyone else’s problems – problems that are being created by your team. 

Regardless of the stage, there’s naturally a whole lot of CYA and finger-pointing going on as the people you report to are CC’d in the emails, or included in group chats.

It’s Time to Make Document Processing Efficient

Lately, members of the C-Suite along with the FA Director have been expressing their concerns with your team’s performance. You and your team are burning out. One of your stars has handed in his resignation. Another two always seem to be sick, and part of you wishes you could call in sick as well.

So, you take a couple of sick days, but only to recharge your batteries, clear your head, and think of a solution to this mess. 

You are not the type of person who will throw anyone under the bus, or waste anyone’s time with ass-covering, apologies, and excuses, you need a solution that 

  • Ensures the timely delivery of accurate data to those who need it
  • Increases operational efficiencies across Manual Corp.
  • Puts Manual Corp. back in its market position as a competitive superpower

You think about when you joined Manual Corp., a few years back. You came on board as an FA manager, so you have spent time in personal and professional hell doing manual data entry. After a few months, you joined your boss – the person whose job you now have – in an effort to implement the RPA solution you’re currently using.

But still, something was missing. Something has always been missing. Manual Corp. continues integrating bleeding-edge tech into its complex network of back-end processes. When your boss left – or was asked to leave, depending on who you talk to – your first order of business was making FA paperless.

You succeeded in doing that; however, now your team has to process an overabundance of digital documents. So they are copy-pasting data from some documents into some systems, or writing new rules for the RPA tool so it can send invoice data through to Manual Corp’s accounting software.

As a fairly tech-savvy person, you know there is a better way of capturing data. AI has come a long way since you joined Manual Corp., and you have just found a solution that can take care of data extraction without requiring much time from your team. You can task one or two team members, or perhaps a couple of interns or your administrative assistant, with validation of the application’s output – upgrading them to AI Associates

Everyone’s a Winner

You do your research and put together a business case for this cognitive document data capture solution. Together with a few of your FA team members, you sign up for the trial version and process a few hundred documents at no cost. You can already see the value this application can bring to most, if not all, Manual Corp. departments and to the company itself.

While you have only run your tests on invoices and similarly structured documents, you see the provider can set up a dedicated AI engine to suit Manual Corp.’s specific needs. You also get reassurance that integrating this data capture solution into the company’s key business systems is a quick, hassle-free procedure.

You and everyone else can dedicate your time and energy to doing the jobs you were actually hired to do. Because your new document data extraction solution gets more accurate with continued use, your team’s AI Associates can have even more time to do more stimulating, value-generating work.

You no longer receive virtual torrents of e-grief. In fact, following the quick deployment and brief onboarding and testing period of the AI-powered data capture solution, you sometimes feel a bit embarrassed by some of the praise colleagues have been heaping on you. Functions across Manual Corp. are getting the accurate data they need on time. Efficiencies have increased across the board. And the company is on its way to regaining its strong competitive position on the market. You have been hearing talk of a promotion, as the FA Director will be moving up to take on the role of CFO. There have also been rumors of a rebranding project that will elevate the company’s name from Manual Corp. to Automated Corp.

Back to Reality

The story you have just starred in is not really that far-fetched. On many occasions in this blog, we have highlighted the ridiculously huge number of companies that are still processing documents manually. We might as well repeat that Billentis figure again, since you are here: globally, companies manually process almost 90% of the invoices they receive. 

This manual approach to document data capture is creating preventable inefficiencies across companies in ways that are similar to the scenario you experienced above. Maybe you are living it right now.

Cognitive data capture really can deliver the time and cost savings it promises. You can see for yourself when you sign up for your free Rossum trial. Process up to 300 invoices per month at no cost, with no obligation. If you have specific data capture requirements that go beyond the trial’s excellent out-of-the-box capabilities, get in touch with our Automation Experts to see what Rossum can do for your company.

This is where we leave you, so you can get back to the story of your business. We hope it’s a good one that ends on a high note – a note of “to be continued… always.”

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